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431-00128 (Agriculture)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons


  • The Canadian legal consumption of cannabis came into force with The Cannabis Act on October 17, 2018. Health Canada is now accepting applications from those who want to become a cannabis licence holder in order to permit them to cultivate and process cannabis.
  • Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay has said that "It's important to recognize that cannabis is an agricultural product like any other agricultural product." While it is true that cannabis is a product of agriculture, it is false to claim that it is like other agricultural products:
    --Cannabis terpenes cause smog. They are classified as volatile organic compounds --VOCs. While VOCs are harmless alone, when they combine with combustion gases, like the nitrogen oxides produced by cars and industrial sources, they create ground-level ozone; the ‘bad' kind of ozone that causes smog and can trigger a variety of health problems for humans and animals.
    --Cannabis odour is an air contaminant. In Denver Colorado, 30% of all municipal odour complaints are cannabis-related. Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities are now overwhelmed with complaints also. Metro Vancouver has stated: "Cannabis production has the potential to cause negative air quality impacts if emissions are not adequately controlled."
    --Cannabis farms require 6-8 foot high security fences topped with barbed wire, and 24-hour-a-day camera surveillance. Living beside a field of cannabis is not like living beside a field of corn. It is like living beside a penitentiary.
    --Cannabis farms will increase crime. Current indoor cannabis growing operations, and their nearby residents/businesses, already struggle with constant crime that only surfaced with the arrival of the cannabis cultivation operations.
    --Cannabis is a drug. A field of cannabis is a field of ready-to-consume psychoactive substance.
    --Cannabis outdoor agriculture will directly impact local food production and food security. Already, close to 30% of food consumed in Canada is imported, and this will increase as we lose local food production land to cannabis.

We, the undersigned residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to:

  • Recognize that cannabis is not a standard agricultural crop and that outdoor grown cannabis requires enhanced regulations.
  • Amend the cannabis licensing regulations to require local community input as well as to require local municipalities to have significant involvement in decision making for licenses, particularly as to the location of properties allocated licenses for the outdoor production and processing of cannabis.
  • Issue a one-year moratorium on licenses for outdoor cultivated cannabis to allow municipalities sufficient time to develop appropriate by-laws in conjunction with their enhanced involvement in the decision making.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Mr. Darren Fisher

The Cannabis Act (the Act) is designed to better protect the health and safety of Canadians, to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, and to keep profits from illicit cannabis sales out of the pockets of criminals and organized crime. All holders of a federal cannabis licence must comply with the provisions of the Act and the Cannabis Regulations (the regulations)which provide the federal legal framework that controls the production and sale of cannabis. Health Canada works closely with the provinces and territories, Indigenous communities, the regulated industry, public health organizations, and law enforcement to support effective implementation of the regulations.

Under the Act and its regulations, a federal licence is required to cultivate cannabis (as well as other authorized activities, such as processing cannabis or selling cannabis to other federal licence holders or to provincially or territorially authorized distributors and retailers). The grounds on which the Minister may refuse to issue a licence are outlined within subsection 62(7) of the Act and aim to ensure that those who receive a licence are capable of conducting their activities in a safe and responsible manner in compliance with the Act and its regulations.

The cultivation and processing of cannabis in Canada is subject to stringent requirements and applicants who wish to become authorized producers must undergo an in depth security clearance process. All licence holders, agents, corporate directors and any individuals occupying senior positions at the site must hold a valid security clearance. This involves a criminal record check and law enforcement record check to detect any known links to organized crime.  

Furthermore, the national Cannabis Tracking System is a federal enforcement tool in place to track the flow of cannabis as a means of preventing the illegal inversion and diversion of cannabis into and out of the regulated framework. Reporting requirements, in accordance with the regulations, are also in place to help prevent diversion into the illegal market.

In addition, the regulations specify physical security requirements for the perimeter of a production site as well as for areas within the site where cannabis is present. For example, applicants for standard cultivation or processing licences must put systems in place to ensure that access to these areas is controlled at all times, and establish 24/7 visual monitoring systems to detect unlawful conduct. Areas where cannabis is present must be secured by an intrusion detection system that will detect attempted or actual unauthorized access to the area, and a record must be made of every person entering or exiting those areas.

Under the regulations, all applicants must notify local authorities (including local government, fire authority and police force) prior to submitting their application to Health Canada. This process allows municipal officials an opportunity to exercise their authorities. On May 8, 2019, Health Canada introduced changes to align the approach to cannabis licensing with the approach for other regulated sectors, such as pharmaceuticals. With these changes, all new applicants for licences to cultivate cannabis, process cannabis, or sell cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes must have a fully built site that meets all the requirements of the regulations at the time of their application, as well as satisfying other application criteria. This means that applicants would need to comply with municipal bylaws and zoning requirements before submitting their application to Health Canada.

With respect to environmental concerns, outdoor cultivation is considered a less energy-intensive method of cultivation, resulting in less energy use and a reduced carbon footprint. In addition, any methods used by a licence holder to destroy cannabis must comply with all applicable federal, provincial and municipal environmental protection legislation.

All applicants are responsible to comply with all applicable provincial or territorial laws and regulations (e.g., environmental laws) as well as municipal by-laws (e.g., zoning and building permits). Health Canada encourages all provinces/territories and municipalities to use the tools at their disposal to ensure that prospective cannabis licence holders meet all standards and bylaws, including local by-laws about zoning, noise, and odour. One potential reference is the Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization developed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which provides guidance in a number of areas, including land use management and bylaw enforcement.

The Cannabis Act requires that a legislative review be conducted three years following its coming into force.

Presented to the House of Commons
Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith)
March 9, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00128)
Government response tabled
May 25, 2020
Photo - Paul Manly
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia

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